Friday, February 25, 2011

Why Contra Makes Me Feel So Good: A Post on the Vestibular Sense and Me


Contra dancing.
Can't get enough of it.

And my informal infatuation with it goes beyond just the keen music, snazzy dance moves, and sprightly, zealous company.

There is a connection between something my body craves because of SPD and contra.
(With sensory processing disorder, a lot of times our bodies are either shying away from certain inputs or experiences or seeking them out. Like you know, if you have a itch and you scratch it, you feel better. By getting my body the inputs it needs, I can function better and feel overall much more comfortable and secure. SPD pretty much means that my brain is awful at dealing with the eight senses.)

That's why, when I dance, I can't help but grin. That's why I get so excited. That's why I just want it to go on forever. When I contra dance, my body, for a few precious hours, just feels right.

This all relates to "vestibular dysfunctions." My vestibular sense (and yours too) is all about things relating to (I'm just going to quote here), "input from the inner ear about equilibrium, gravitational changes, movement experiences, and position in space." Moving around and spinning! My body seeking to get the input it needs.

Unlike with tactile where I was all over the board with hyposensitivity and hypersensitivity, with the vestibular sense I am simply hyposensitive to movement (aka under-responsive).

I'll go through the checklist again and then, in the end, connect it to contra.
  • In constant motion, can't seem to sit still
    • I don't have it so bad. Everyone is different. Sometimes I can sit still (oi, sometimes...), but normally I need something to fidget with like my Bucky Balls. I have improved a lot, I think. Sometimes it can be a pretty obvious, though.
  • Craves fast, spinning, and/or intense movement experiences
    • I love it. I adore it. I crave it.
  • Loves being tossed in the air
    • One of my favourite things when I was younger (and still, now) was to do what I called "launching." I crouch on the ground and two mates stand slightly in front of me on either side. They each grab one of my hands and fling me into the air. I can get pretty high at times. I love doing this over and over. Just the other night my two guy friends launched me - sigh, it felt so good.
  • Could spin for hours and never appear to be dizzy
  • Always jumping on furniture, trampolines, spinning in a swivel chair, or getting into upside down positions
    • This rings so many bells. I love to spin in those chairs - but it goes beyond, "Wee, this is fun." It makes me feel really good to just spin and spin. When I was little I used to lay on the chair and propel myself by using my hands to grab and pull the lower wheels of the chair. I also really enjoy going upside down to right side up. Over and over. Park benches work great. I remember one night in Switzerland where I convinced everyone to do it because it feels so good.
  • Loves to swing as high as possible and for long periods of time
    • I used to but now it's not so good for me any more.
  • Always running, jumping, hopping etc. instead of walking
    • Not so much. I like walking... but I do have many irregular tendencies. I'm learning to control.
  • Likes sudden or quick movements, such as, going over a big bump in the car or on a bike
Do I even need to spell it out for you?

Contra is spinning, fast movements, back and forth movements, skipping, hopping, and stomping all in one --- and I get to do it for three hours solid with awesome people.

That is what my body wants. It's craving those kind of motions!


How to explain this to normal folks. Pretty much, my body doesn't get the same input in normal movements like you guys do. So I need more extreme moving situations to get those inputs our bodies need. I don't have SPD nearly as severe as some people where they really really are affected, so I don't have a lot of negative effects from the lack of inputs - however I certainly feel the benefits when I undergo some contra or other wonderful activities.

Contra isn't just a wonderful thing to do, for me, it's like occupational therapy. My body is seeking out experiences like what contra has to offer. So, when my body feels that good and safe in the world, I can't help but cut loose and grin.

A Post on Tactile Dysfunctions and Me


So, the crazy thing with SPD is I can be seeking in one area and defensive in another. And it changes. All the time.

To all of you unfamiliar with SPD, this can sound a bit confusing. But pretty much, for me, how it is is there are somethings that make me feel really really awful and other things that make my body feel wonderful and secure. These are usually things that don't drive "normal" folks up the wall or drive them into excitement.

Tactile is pretty much covers everything that has to do with things touching my skin, pressure, temperature, pain, and my hair moving.

I tend to be more tactile defensive which is a form of sensory defensiveness (read about sensory defensiveness here - it describes me to a T in many ways).

Here's the positive results from checklist for hypersenstivity to touch:
  • Becomes fearful, anxious or aggressive with light or unexpected touch
    • Extensively anxious. After a few episodes of unexpected touch within a short amount of time, I can change in manner very quickly - from relaxed to on guard. This is one of the things that pointed us to SPD in the first place, I used to have this a lot worse.
  • Becomes frightened when touched from behind or by someone/something they can not see (such as under a blanket)
    • Yes yes yes yes yes....
  • Complains about having hair brushed; may be very picky about using a particular brush
    • This one applies to when I was much younger. Now I love it.
  • Avoids group situations for fear of the unexpected touch
    • It all depends. SPD is kinda obnoxious in that it's unpredictable and I can't tell what my body will do in a situation. But I am working on trying to control it and getting better.
  • Resists friendly or affectionate touch from anyone besides parents or siblings (and sometimes them too!)
    • That's why the picture I chose is up. Poor Christian. He's one of my closest friends and politely asks for hugs. I think that is the third one he ever got.
  • Dislikes kisses, will "wipe off" place where kissed
  • Prefers hugs
  • Refuses to wear new or stiff clothes, clothes with rough textures, turtlenecks, jeans, hats, or belts, etc.
    • I LOATH wearing jeans. For me, it's also tight clothes. When I get dressed in the morning I will often go through a few outfits not because I want to look just right but because the clothes just don't feel right. But, what might feel uncomfortable one day might not bother me the next.
  • Excessively ticklish
    • Amen.
  • Distressed by seams in socks and may refuse to wear them
  • Distressed by clothes rubbing on skin.
    • I don't think distressed is the right word...
  • May walk on toes only
    • This is just coincidence. Nothing SPD related for me. I just love walking on my toes.... I think.
So those are all hypersensitive, but what about hyposensitive? The craving-ness I can get. Yep, it's there too:
  • May crave touch, needs to touch everything and everyone
    • This might not seem like it would be me after what you read about, but it is. I love to touch. I love to stick my hands down socks and put my hands on knees. I adore the texture of velvet blazers, facial hair, and PlayDoh (I was called the PlayDoh girl in junior high).
  • Repeatedly touches surfaces or objects that are soothing
    • Yep. That means I'll sometimes pick out a dance partner based on what shirt they're wearing. It's a good excuse to feel the fabric they're wearing.
  • Thoroughly enjoys and seeks out messy play
    • Haha sometimes. More often then not. But I can't stand it if my clothes get wet in the process and I have to live with that. I am more worried about the afterness of wet clothes or sandy feet in socks then then I am excited about getting messy.
    Then there are some other tactile related things that weren't on the list...
    • Heat registers can drive me nuts!
      • Oi. They really do make me want to flip around. At night, I have to cover up my heat vent, at times, with a blanket because I can't sleep with the air moving. Or, the other day at circus school, a heater went on and it took me a bit to get back on track. Ok, it took more than a bit. I just sort of froze. I did not like that air moving in my path. Third is when I'm testing at school in the special folks testing center, there is a heat register that is always on. It's awful and blows air around. So I always bring an extra jacket to cover it up with.
    • Wearing wet clothes makes me want to murder.
      So those are just a few quirks. I know a lot of them apply to a lot of folks who don't have SPD... but after 20 years, I've learned that my responses aren't normal. Apparently, "normal" (ha!) folks don't get overly anxious about surprise touching...

      Anyways. There's my tactile tendencies.

      Thursday, February 24, 2011

      Dumpster Diving in Seattle


      You've heard the statistic that 50% of food produced in America is thrown away, right? I think that's it.

      Whatever it is - it's insane. So much food going to waste.

      A lot of that food ends up in dumpsters outside our local stores. The solution? Hop on in!

      After the party at the Mole Haus had mulled down a bit, Ali and I headed over to the local Trader Joes. They're pretty cool about dumpster diving and it's a pretty ideal location because it's fenced in but unlocked.

      Apparently, Trader Joes recently discontinued selling Good Earth. What does that mean? It means Ali found around 30 perfectly new boxes of Good Earth tea in the dumpster. She hopped in and saved as many as she could carry.

      This time we snagged up some avocados, a bag of flour, some greens, meatless balls, and walnuts.

      Not bad eh?

      And do I consider it stealing? Trespassing? Wrong?
      Not at all. It's open. It's free. And it was going to be thrown away.

      I bet it pains the employees to dump all that food. Waste it all. And if it doesn't, well, I don't know how you could become numb to throwing away large quantities of good food that people could eat...


      And that free flour has so far made me over four loves of bread. Here's one:


      Simple. Delicious. Free food.

      Wednesday, February 23, 2011

      Exercising With Extra Weight


      [feb 21 11] - No Wonder Overweight People Don't Like to Excercise

      The pack on my backpack weighs 31.5 lbs total. It's full of everything from a bag of flour to 10-Grain Hot Cereal to San Pellegrino to a sleeping bag to my tent to clothes to last me a night and a day to...

      It's a full pack.

      Anyways, I had a lovely time walking home from the bus stop with the pack on. Didn't bother me - it just made me work a bit harder as it is 27.6% of my own body weight. My legs worked more and my lungs enjoyed it.

      Fortunate for me, it was only 1 mile - 259 feet of elevation gain. The highest grade was 24%.

      This got me thinking, though. See, there are plenty of people out there my height who weigh as much as me plus my backpack put together (and I'm not talking muscle weight, here). That must be exhausting to have to carry that weight all the time. No wonder they don't feel like exercising - which leads to a heavier weight which leads to less exercising. If you're not used to moving and then when you move it feels like what I went through, then I would understand the lack of motivation to continue on twisting and wiggling.

      Also - when I have my backpack on, I am much much much wider than I am without it. Then I see what it's like to be obese on a bus. It would not be fun. I feel absolutely awful if I hit someone with my tent so I'm careful not to...

      Instrument is in hand because I like to dance with the pack on my back.

      Wednesday, February 16, 2011

      Don't Let Your Head Droop


      Don't put your head on their shoulder, gals, ever.

      I'm about as conservative as it gets (or, at least, I used to think so...).

      One thing I have learned, as a girl, is: Do not put your head on the shoulder of a guy nor let their head sink down.

      See, you would think that would be a safe friendly thing you can do. You would think that would mean nothing. Yep. That's what I thought.

      I can think of a few examples of times when it got ever so late, my head got ever so heavy, and it ended up on a shoulder or vice versa.

      It takes less than four seconds to recall what happened within an hour of that:
      One time ended up in, "I like you." Not on my part.
      Another time ended in his miserable attempt to kiss me. I found out I'm good at dodging lips. Very good at it. I know my boundaries and maintain them with pride.


      But, rewind, before those moments - what happened?

      Sob stories were told. They shared lowest moments of their lives.

      Head to shoulder.
      Then they told me something from their past.
      I listened.
      And for some reason, they went running with that little ounce of friendship and tried to turn it to something else.

      Humans are funny creatures.

      But I now know that physical touch is ever so powerful and, therefore, I avoid it with the opposite sex unless we're dancing, then I welcome it. Sometimes hugs are ok but I've been known to shy away from them. This is an entire different post in itself. I'll be quick to hug folks, at times, taking any chance to wrap my arms around a person. But other times, just can't do it. There are certain people, regardless of how close I am to them, I simply don't hug. There are other mates who it just seems critical that a hug takes place...

      What can I say? I have let my guard down before. I thought it was ok for some sort of physical connection (totally platonic) to be there (elbow to elbow anyone?) and I now realize that just might not be possible. Or it might. It is with some folks, but sometimes I am truly surprised by the actions of others.

      For now, I'll keep my hands to myself and my neck strong enough to support my head on its own.


      Now head on the lap, though, that's a different story. I've found that to be safe.

      Tuesday, February 15, 2011

      Worlds Collide: Trying To Keep Them Seperate


      One thing I like? Keep my world's separate.
      A part.

      Let me elaborate.

      In my life, I have a lot of different "worlds" or social groups. Places where I know folks and hang out with them. The world is made up of the people who I encounter when I partake in that activity.

      This includes my...

      • High School World
      • Exchange Student 2007-08 World
      • Exchange Student 2009 World
      • Square Dancing World
      • Flash Mob World
      • Volunteering World
      • Circus World
      • Olympia World
      • Contra World
      • Calvary Chapel Bothell World
      • Seattle Pacific University World
      • Community College World
      • Gaelic World
      • Nanny World

      And one thing that gets me antsy-er than anything else is when those worlds get mixed up.
      I go out of my way to keep them separate.

      And it's hard.

      And it can come across as me being cold, selfish, self centered, and awkward (because it is).

      For example, I don't want to take someone from my square dancing world and introduce them to my Olympia world.
      I don't want to share my contra world with my community college world.
      I don't want to take a friend from church with me to go do a flash mob.
      What I mean by that is I don't want to, say, take someone I know through contra and then have them start interacting with my other world.

      Now if someone is coincidentally in both worlds, that's fine - like I have a friend who I know through circus school and then I ran into her at a contra dance.

      It makes me really really uncomfortable.

      Problem is - some of my worlds are pretty awesome. I talk about things I do, folks get interested, and then I'm in a pickle. Then they want to do what I do. And this happens a lot.

      I start doing something. Talk about it. Then folks say, "Hey, dude, how do I get on board?"

      Normally I'll side step it. Try and talk it down. Talk around it.

      And sometimes I'm just blatant and honest and tell them what I'm like.

      I have an AMAZING friend named Joelle. Were she not so wonderful and understanding, I wouldn't post this on here. We've got open communication, dude. Anyways, Joelle heard I was starting up circus school and she got interested.  Ahh, this is awkward to post. Luckily, she was only joking. Well, not joking in being interested. Joking because she wouldn't be able to attend because it was so far.

      It made me feel like an awful person. Awful friend as...
      I had to pretty much say, "Hey dude, I love you but.... I don't want you there. I want to do it on my own."
      I didn't have to. But I got all wound-up-in-my-stomach.

      That's pretty much what I said. I still feel uncomfortable about it.

      But that was one of the few times I've been able to actually speak up to folks. It's hard to explain to people and, in the end, I just sound selfish and self centered. I guess that might be it, but really, I just want to keep my worlds apart.

      Monday, February 14, 2011

      Happy Valentines Day - Straight From Facebook


      [feb 14 11] - Valentines Day

      I can barely keep track of the numbers - of how many people either dissed Valentines Day (commenting on cards and chocolate or money), wittingly called it "Singles Awareness Day," or wished this happy day, ever so personally, to the world through their status update.

      How did I celebrate this day? How'd I spread the love?

      Through the three happiest things I know: buttons, tea, and slides.

      I made up a set of Valentine's buttons before school and attached them to bags of Good Earth Sweet & Spicy tea. Those were for row and bus mates and dreary looking folks around the SCC campus.

      Then, in the evening, me and the other mobbers took to the streets of Capital Hill sharing the joy and love we had. We were armed, as mobbers should be, with flowers, chocolates, and I brought at least 132 slides.

      We raced the streets, encountering folks who were in the same story/windy/rainy circumstance as us, and hand handed out goods wishing them a wonderful night.

      "Happy Valentines Day!"

      We wandered into nail and hair salons, showering everyone within with chocolate kisses, slides, and smiles.

      It was wonderful to look people in the eye and wish them a Happy Valentines Day. I loved looking back to see my path of destruction - people holding up little slides to the street lamps and then tucking them into their wallets to pull out again later.

      On the bus, I handed them to those folks that looked pretty, well, down. One woman looked miserable but after the slide, she didn't stop smiling for the rest of the bus trip. Another man I gave the slide to looked like he was going to cry as he said thanks. Not sure what was going on there...

      Anyways, this day could be all about moping around being single. But, truth is, being single is how I want to be at this point in life. It's not something I need to change or am discontent about. Valentine's day isn't a day to be bitter. It's a pretty fantastic day to make other folks smile and a good excuse to give away small gifts.

      Thursday, February 10, 2011

      He's Here! He's Here!



      Feb 10 11] - IAN

      I am ever ever ever so excited.
      Ian is here.
      In fact, he's sleeping in the room next door before we hang out.

      This is, undoubtedly, the highlight of my week.

      Other exciting moves - this guy is moving to Wallingford (50th & Sunshine) so I will be able to visit him much much more often.

      He'll be a very short bike ride from my school (just 7.2 miles) and even closer to Phinney Community Center (1.4 miles). In fact, most weeks I already bike within 0.9 miles of the location of the new house (which is bright bright bright yellow). He's less than a mile from Green Lake. .4 miles from Dick's. .9 from the Burke Gilman (don't even have to turn right or left to get there - straight shot).

      Best of all, he's a short bike ride from my house (13.1 miles). Before he lived in Bellevue in the middle of nowhere (on Phantom Lake) and nowhere near the Burke or bike routes I am familiar with.

      Anyways.

      Life is so beautiful!

      Maybe Good Can Come With Glee: Tufts Beelzebubs



      Maybe good things can come from Glee (in addition to the clean room I get when the weak plot plays in the background as I tidy up and wait for the songs).

      One of my all time favourite a cappella groups is, hands down, the Tuft's Beelzebubs.

      Adore them!

      Love a cappella music.

      Anyways, I was watching Glee when they came on with, er, I forget the song, but all I could think was, "I know those background voices!" I could've sworn they were the Beelzebubs.

      Quick Google search.
      Check!

      Indeed, the talented Bubs' voices had taken over the "Warblers" the all-male academy in the plot of Glee.

      And they still do.

      What does this mean? Thanks to Glee, I get to hear more (and new) songs by the Beelzebubs instead of waiting all the way till Fall 2011 for their new album.

      Also means, this humble college group has now been way up on the charts of iTunes and Billboard. Not bad, not bad.

      Wednesday, February 9, 2011

      Packed Lunch: No Plastic Bags & I Can Pronounce the Ingredients

      At the beginning of Summer quarter, my English professor asked us to tell the class a few things about ourselves. I believe the third thing that popped into my mind and came out of my mouth was:

      "I like to pack lunches."

      And so I do.

      Daily.

      Lately, I've gotten even more uncomfortable with using plastic bags and have made the complete switch.

      I've got a few snack bags that I can just rinse and reuses, my thermos, baby food jars, two tins, and two circle wraps that fold up perfectly to hold a sandwich.

      Packing lunches works out best for me. I know what's going in my body and I can make rational nutrition decisions when I'm not hungry or under the influence of time. It's relaxing in the morning. It's also more affordable for me. It's convenient because I can actually eat when my body tells me I'm hungry (between classes, during classes, after classes, at the bus stop, between dances).

      The contents of the lunch?

      Lately, for the past week, lunch has been along the pages of this:
      • Carrots, lots of carrots.
      • Organic Herb salad (parsley, dill, arugula, dill, baby lettuce, red and green oak leaf, lollo rossa, red chard, green chard, frisée, mizuna, cilantro, raicchio, etc)
      • Organic Curried Red Lentil Soup (onions, chicken broth, carrots, red lentils, coconut, curry powder, turmeric, garlic, etc)
      • Wasa Multi-Grain Crackers (whole grain rye flour, water, sourdough, whole grain wheat flour, whole grain oat flour, whole grain barley flour, oat kernels, yeast, oat flakes, malt extract etc.)
      • Almond Butter (just smashed almonds) + Ginger Preserves Sandwich + Squirley Bread (organic whole sprouted wheat, raisin nectar, sesame seeds, water, sunflower seeds, vital wheat glueton, barley malt, yeast, sea salt)
      And for dessert either
      I feel powerful being able to able to pronounce the ingredients.

      Guess that's an average lunch.
      So delicious.

      Blossoming Bicornes


      Today Carole came over and we made hats.
      When I say "we" I mean that I chopped some things
      and she was an artist.

      They are to unify dancers wandering around at an auction.

      Tuesday, February 8, 2011

      Craving

      Photograph by Jesse Burke.

      I seem to be satisfied with school.
      Day to day

      I am content.

      Until I realize I've been on this continent for more than a year.

      And that's the longest I've been here since I was 16 years old.

      I am ready for an adventure.
      I think I need to create one.

      What's holding me back? School. I would put it off, it wouldn't be an issue, but the costs of higher education are rising rising rising and I don't want money to hold me back from getting a degree that'll open doors to other 'ventures later on.

      But, I have more certainty than not that if an adventure opportunity arose, I would take it. Even if it's just to leave the state for a weekend.

      Most Miserable Midterm... all the time, God is good


      I went through my test one last time before going to hand it in to the lady at the front desk of the Offices of Special Services.

      "... I was only informed right before I took the test," I said.
      "that must have heightened your anxiety," she said.

      I flipped open my test in front of her to reveal the first page -- tear stained, covered with scratches and extensive marks of frustration, wrinkled, and a stream of numbers from 1 to 63 where I got stuck on 63 and wrote it out 12 times.

      "Yeah."
      Maybe a little....

      -------------------------
      With SPD and ADHD, preparations for a test go way beyond simply studying.

      Studying just insures that the knowledge might be somewhere in my head - but there are extensive mental preparations I take to best optimize my chance of having the test represent my knowledge. This includes testing at the Office of Special Services where it's completely silent and I get extra time to process my thoughts and go through my brain-catalogue.

      Here are a few other things I do to prepare for a test:
      • Get a solid 8-9 hours of sleep before. That means, never ever partake in late night studying. I'll normally stop studying by either 1 PM or 6 PM the previous day. There's a point when I'm simply no longer productive.

      • Schedule the test when my meds are at their peak. For me, that's between 10:30 and 12:30.

      • Eat super super well. That means a substantial breakfast and a packed lunch to snack on just before I head in. Protein foods are a must. Today, my secondary food with protein was also a comfort food - Brown Cow Maple Cream Top. I also consumed curried red lentil soup, herb salad, rye crackers, carrots, and tomatoes.

      • Walk through the day in my head multiple times. No surprises. I'm prepared.

      • Feel confident in the material. Enter the test feeling like I've got what I need to know in my brain.

      • Get rid of all anxiety.

      • Go for a walk around campus before the test.

      • Wear the right, comfortable clothes.

      • Pray. Pray. Pray. For peace, wisdom, strength, endurance --- and focus.
      -------------------------
      Today I had two midterms to take. One in economics and one in logic. I wasn't worried about either.

      Logic comes to me pretty quickly. I see. I get it. I duplicate the procedures and the get the right answer.

      With economics? Well, let's just say on the last exam, over 1/3 of the class got a C or less. As he handed back our papers, he said it was very very rare that someone got 100% on that exam but one student had this class. He handed me my paper and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the student he was referring to was me. Good start for the quarter.

      I walked into the Office of Special Services, prepared to take my test.

      "Are you Margaret?" a woman I was less familiar with asked me.
      "Yes..." I said.
      "Margaret, unless you can get documentation you won't be able to type your test," she said.
      "Wait.. today?" I asked.

      I've been typing my tests at this school since the first quarter and I could write an extensive story on how this came to be.

      "No. You'll have to handwrite it."
      I was only told minutes before the test.

      Now, this doesn't seem like a huge deal to most folks but to me, it changed everything. This changed not only my capability of communicating my knowledge to the professor but also my mental state.

      Mental state. Sane? Ha!
      I went from steady on solid ground to shaky anxiety.
      Good bye schedule. Good bye predictability.
      On a lot of days, changes in schedule is fine, but on this one, I had been doing everything to avoid complications...

      For my first test (which I had intended to handwrite from the start) wasn't there so I had to travel the campus to get it from my teacher who took forever to get it to me as he talked to another professor in the class while the rest of my class took the test. Then I had to walk back hand them the test and take it. Nothing big - but for me, a girl who loves schedules and knowing what to expect, this was just another wave knocking my boat off course.
      "Strong Craving for Order, Routine: [Folks] with SPD challenges often crave order and routine. Since they cannot make appropriate sense of things, predictability seems to help keep them calm." Here.

      To get "centered" again, I sharpened my pencils.
      All of them.
      Manually.

      Then I took the first test in logic.

      And it went fine... I guess.

      Then came the Econ test right after.

      The charts and graphs came easy. I love making those. Makes sense.

      But, in flipping through the test, I felt overwhelmed as I realized the amount I would have to write. Essay question after essay question.

      So, what is the big deal with me and hand writing? I'm 20. I should be able to handle a simple change in the way I communicate.
      Why was I typing in the first place? Three things. First, SPD. There is a very likely possible connection between that and my fine motor skills - like writing with a pen or pencil. Second, I was never taught how to hold a pencil correctly. Third, I was never taught cursive.

      Now, with typing, I can express myself almost as fluently as talking. I can write nearly as fast as I talk. This means, in taking a test, when I type, I can actually express the knowledge in my brain to the professor. I can actually let him know what I'm thinking and what I'm capable of doing.
      But, being 20, I should be able to be flexible. I am working on that, really am, but for me, this was major. In that one moment of time, things changed. To put it into perspective for you normal folks... say you had a huge midterm and the teacher showed up at your house at 6 AM the day of the test and handed you a dull orange crayon and asked you to do the test there and then on your doorstep. It would be disorienting. Not what you had planned. Not what you were prepared for.
      I grabbed my biggest pencil and pounded it into the paper with frustration.
      I looked out the window, trying to hold it together, but before I knew it I was crying. I'm not one to cry that often. Can't even remember the last time I cried. This is embarrassing. It's just a test. Tests don't phase me. They don't bother me. But that one curve ball...

      I was overwhelmed to the point of feeling hopeless. My routine was gone. Something majorly unexpected had happened. My mind was obsessed with the change in routine and wouldn't move on.
      But, luckily, I've got a good and mighty God who can do good and mighty things.
      See, right before the test, I had sent a text out to a few amazing Christian friends to pray for me and the test. I hadn't really known why - I felt good about the upcoming the test - but I felt like I should. I wanted this test covered in prayer. Why this test above all others? I felt more confident in how I would do then I had in a while. I felt capable. Why, of all times, did I feel the need to ask for prayer?

      Definitely a God thing.

      Message Sent Out: I've got two midterms in 50 minutes and would love it if you would pray for me. Likewise, if you've got any prayer requests, let me know. - Magi-

      Messages Received:
      Eric: of course magi. I would like prayer for humility. Good luck magi! I know you ll do great.Christian: Maggie! What a pleasant surprise! I'll absolutely pray for you.Jenny: I will pray indeed!Nicole: Yes! Of course i will :) let me know how they go and i would just love some prayer in time management... :) thank you!Austin: Definitely magi. Good luck! You'll do great!Sarah: I now you'll be amazing! Praying for you.
      What amazing, encouraging friends I've got!
      Anyways, God heard and God was there. God is always there, I know, but he made his presence known.

      At the peak of my overwhelment (I know that's not a word), I remembered a phrase my Grandma Dorothy has written EVERYWHERE.

      "Are you forgetting the power of the Lord?"
      She has it written in cross stitch on her wall, on the front page of her Bible, the last page, the second to the last. I saw her yesterday and it stuck with me.

      I also remembered a chapter Eric had sent me the day before, Psalm 150. It talks about praising God. A lot.

      God is more powerful than SPD or ADHD.

      Another verse that came to mind was Philippians 4:6-7.
      "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

      And I got some peace.

      Now, I can't say the test went amazing -- but there was a turn around point after I gave it to God.

      I am grateful for my friends' prayers.
      I am grateful for my friends.

      I got the test completed. I could not have done it relying on my own strength. I was too overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated.

      It was humbling. When I think I can do something on my own, with my own strength, God comes and says, "Nope! You gotta rely on me!" I thought I had this test down. Well, guess I didn't. Glad I relied on God before it was too late...

      Anyways, that's the story of the most miserable test I took and how it turned into a teachable moment.

      Monday, February 7, 2011

      Can Get There On My Own


      There’s a keen sense of power knowing I can get myself from Point A to Point B without the assistance of anyone – and that I can do it for free.

      Hop the bike.
      Tie up my shoes.

      And I’m off.

      At what point do I consider a trip to be beyond normal or doable without second thoughts?

      Walking, 4 miles is acceptable. That takes me an hour which is a reasonable journey to get anywhere. That, however, keeps me constricted to a 4 mile radius from my house. I can easily get to Bothell, Mountlake Terrace, Juanita, and even Woodinville a few times (12. 5 miles round trip).

      Biking – my regular weekly trips I’ve taken have been either 13 or 16 miles each way. The 13 mile trip I would do to and from and the 16 mile was just one way (because to get home from that location, it would be at night, through downtown Seattle, and 20 miles home).

      There are times when biking and walking can’t get me where I need to go, though. That’s where the beloved public (or private, sometimes?) transportation comes in. Then, I guess that's getting around with the aid of something - but I'm not tied to it (if you drive a car to a location, you have to take it with you to the next location and it's with you for the day).

      Metro? Sound Transit? Community Transit? Amtrak?

      So good!

      Only one I’m not highlighting is Greyhound. Not keen on them.

      Bus. Trains. Good deal. You pay less then what gas, car costs, and insurance would cost. You get on and someone actually drives you to where you need to go.

      The only complaint is I can’t be in charge of my punctuality.
      That bothers me. Greatly.

      I like being on time. I like to be early. And often, the bus is late. That can be uncomfortable.

      Sunday, February 6, 2011

      Just A Bit Older Than You



      After I graduated, instead of going to a college in which my social circle was a bunch of clueless freshman who thought they were on some great path of independence, I went to Switzerland to be an au pair.

      The company, the friendships I found there were refreshing. Wonderful.

      And everyone was older.

      It seemed like the majority of friends I found had already graduated from college and were on their way with life.

      These people I came to love.

      23-29 year olds. God bless them.

      And then I came back to America.

      And my favourite people are still the 23-29 year olds.

      Those are the folks I feel most comfortable with. I enjoy their conversations more. I enjoy their company more. I like hearing them talk now that they're on their way in life and have usually specialized in something by then and, therefore, know much about it. Kaci --> art/photography. I'm forgetting other examples, but they're there.

      There are a few exceptions to this, of course, but those folks jump out to me right away. Folks like Joelle, Eric, Sarah, Christian, Angel, and Nicole.

      It's not that I loath my age group - I just prefer being with those who are on their way with life and have made it through the education-barrier.

      Thursday, February 3, 2011

      SPD Checklist: #1 Eating Myself, Background Noises, Tuned In



      As I said I would do, I'm going through the SPD Checklist bit by bit and writing up on some of my reflections. It's bit of an overwhelming task because I either think, "Oi, I've got all of these," or else, "Doesn't everyone?"

      I know that each individual one doesn't just mean - bang - SPD. But putting the extensive list together paints a broader picture of who I am.

      Bites lips or inside of cheeks.
      Haha. Do I? Do I eat myself?

      This is embarrassing, but, yes, I have this problem. I am very, very frequently biting off the skin that's in my mouth.

      I don't know how to stop. I just have to do it. It doesn't feel right in there...

      Yep...

      Difficulty concentrating on or watching a movie/tv show when there is background noise or distractions.

      I just can't tune out those other noises.
      'cept when I am super-zoned in.

      Become engrossed in one single activity for a long time and seems to tune out the rest of their environment.

      This'll be my downfall. When I tune in, well, everything else can be tuned out. Mainly time. Time goes away. Responsibility goes away.

      Tuesday, February 1, 2011

      Jesus Christ vs Stale Relationships


      I'm not sure this blog post will even make sense. I'm hoping I will be able to express what's going on in my mind and in the real world. We'll see how this goes.

      Friendships get stale.
      Friendships fade.
      They die.
      And it's weird.
      It's nice.

      I just don't know.

      My high school friendships never meant a lot to me. They were things, items I clinged to during that time period as a source of amusement but, really, I think it was just a pathetic attempt to not spend six hours of my day feeling alone in a school of 1,700 students.

      I believe my documentations of school days and other people's lives was a meager attempt to convince myself I had one.

      I don't reckon I ever really fit in.
      And that's ok.
      Maybe that's the way it always will be. Ought to be.
      We're not to consider the world our home anyways. It's all temporary down here.


      The time I invested in those friendships of high school was for temporary amusement.

      Now in looking at that, I can take a step back and look at real life. Can what I learned in high school be applied to the bigger picture?

      Yes.

      If I can't take what I learn in one situation and apply it to another, all of those lessons are for naught.

      These earthly relationships with other human beings are just for the moment. My time invested in them should not merely be for my own gain and pleasure. I should be seeking out opportunities to serve other humans, following Christ's example. My time with friends shouldn't just be so I can feel like I'm not alone.

      What matters is my relationship with Christ. If only I had spent more time pursuing him instead of the world. Imagine what could have happened. What he could have done with that time. Yes, he used that time to form me, who I am. I matured and grew -- but, what if I had sought him above all else? What if I had put the effort into that relationship instead of these temporary, meaningless unfulfilling ones with my fellow humans?

      I am not meaning to imply that friendship and fellowship are bad. Without them, our time on earth would have little purpose or value. But I put them in front of Jesus which is totally skewed.

      Christ first.

      After all, my identity is in him.
      After all, he has never let me down.

      And he has never flaked out on me - my greatest pet peeve, that which irks me above all else.

      He's reliable. Responsible. Encouraging. Wise.

      Ultimate friend.

      Jesus Christ.
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